THE, HOOKWORM DISEASE.
V.-—Prevalance of the Disease a nd Its Economic Importance.
By Dr. John A. Ferrell, of the North Carolina Board of Health.
WE HAVE mentioned abov
all the factors necessary fo
the prevalence of hookworn
disease and shown that they arc
found in the South. People wh<
live in the country, away from sew
erage systems, and work in the soi
suffer more frequently than citj
residents. Those who go barefooted
or in other ways allow the skin tc
come in contact with polluted soi
show a high percentage of infection
In Porto Rico, King and Ashford re
ported that probably 90 per cent ol
the rural population was infected
Stiles, the discoverer of hookworm
in America, and the leader in the
crusade against it, estimates that
more than one-third of the rural
population of the South is infected.
Generally speaking, the more
or less extensive investigations
throughout the Southern States have
shown his estimate too conservative.
The health officers engaged in the
other Southern States can furnish
the results of the investigations they
have conducted in their respective
States. We shall give here only the
results of some investigations among
North Carolinians. Excepting Vir
ginia, none of the States in which
campaigns against hookworm dis
ease are being conducted is more
distant from the equator than North
Carolina. Consequently, they likely
have equally as much hookworm in
fection as has North Carolina.
All the examinations given below
are based on the microscopic recog
nition of hookworm eggs in the ex
creta which, of course, excludes any
uncertainty as to the diagnosis.
The following constitutes groups
of adults or children who were ex
amined at random without regard to
^K*>«PJt\or not they presented any
appSaainces suggesting the disease.
N. C. soldiers, Tirst Regiment,
western North Carolina, 372 exam
ined, 137 infected.
OUiuiciBi ovuuuu ucgimcui, caoicui
North Carolina, 366 examined, 213
Soldiers, Third Regiment, central
North Carolina, 73 examined, 2 4 in
Soldiers, Coast Artillery, central
and eastern North Carolina, 218 ex
amined, 63 infected.
Children, age 6 to 18, Odd Fellows
Orphanage, Goldsboro, N. C., 96 ex
amined, 52 infected.
Children, age 6 to 18, Methodist
Orphanage, Raleigh, 131 examined,
Presbyterian Orphanage, Barium
Spings, N. C., 136 examined, 66 in
Baptist Orphanage, Thomasville,
394 examined, 142 infected.
Kinston School, 54 examined, 28
Wayne County School, 21 exam
ined, 19 infected.
Duplin County School, 19 exam
ined, 13 infected.
Wake County School, 119 exam
ined, 32 infected.
State Blind School, white, Ra
leigh, N. C., 45 examined, 24 in
Negro A. and M. College, Greens
boro, N. C., 93 examined, 15 in
Negro Masonic Orphanage, Ox
ford, N. C., 108 examined, 13 in
White school children, McDowell,
Yancey and Mitchell counties, 663
examined, 258 Infected.
Total examined, 2,883; infected,
Many of the specimens were col
lected in the mountain sections of
the State and the disease is not al
i together as prevalent there as in the
r eastern section of the State. More
i over, many of those examined are
> residents of large towns where the
• disease is not so prevalent as in
■ rural communities.
It is impossible to accurately esti
mate the economic importance of
hookworm disease. We do not know
1 the number and can not estimate
the value of the lives that, either di
rectly from the disease or indirectly
from some intercurrent diseases in
vited by it, have filled the acres of
graves that should have remained un
dug for many years. We can not es
timate the cost of the suffering,
poor health, incapacitation for men
tal or physical work, and other
bodily detractions caused by the dis
ease. We do not know which graves
are occupied by great intellectual
and financial giants who, undevel
oped, were called away by the pre
ventable and curable disease.
We do know that in proportion to
the severity of the disease, the pow
er of the blood to collect oxygen in
the lungs and food from the diges
tive tract and convey this nourish
ment to the bony, muscular, and
nervous tissue is correspondingly re
duced. In a series of more than five
hundred cases of hookworm disease
tested in this connection, the quality
of the blood was found to range
from 9 to 65 per cent of normal, the
average being less than 50 per cent.
When it is reduced to 10 per cent
of normal, or less, the body starves
to death. At 75 per cent the body
and mind is, on account of the lack
of nourishment, incapacitated at
least 25 per cent.
Suppose we stay well within con
servative bounds and estimate that
only one-fourth of the North Caro
linians have the disease, and that
they have the disease but mildly, on
an average the reduction in qualities
of the blood being reduced only 25
per cent. Expressed in other words,
it means that in a conservative esti
mate one-fourth of our people are
one-fourth incapacitated by the dis
What, then, is the immense an
nual loss, in dollars, to the State,
aside from any humanitarian con
siderations? Time and space will
not permit a consideration of the
vast loss to the State occasioned
along many lines. Just one specific
illustration will be given: In the
State public schools alone, not in
cluding any colleges, more than $3,
OOO.OOOis annually spent. A per
capita division of this sum according
to our estimate, indicates that one
fourth of the total, or $750,000, is
spent on sufferers from hookworm
disease, who are incapacitated to a
degree that they can only assimilate
75 per cent of the learning they
would have received had they not
been infected. One-fourth of the
money thus spent on them, or $187,
500, is annually lost to the State as
a result of the disease. Think of an
annual loss of $187,500 from the
school appropriation alone by virtue
of the existence of a disease which is
both preventable and curable. Will
the State stand by and permit such
loss to continue and not spend one
cent, directly, to stop it?
“Well” said Cassidy, "’tis too bad
as that none av us kin iver be as
good as some people think we sh’ud
“Aye,” replied Casey, “but ’tis
consolin’ to think that none av us
kin ever be as bad as some people
think we are.”—Catholic Standard
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